94944_000_005Out of tragedy came understanding—and unexpected blessings.
When I had just turned deacon age, my family moved from our home in Wyoming to a new home in Great Falls, Montana. My father, older brother, and younger sister climbed into our pickup truck and led the way. They were towing a large red trailer we had borrowed for the move. The rest of the family, with Mom at the wheel, climbed into the family van.
We had crossed the state line into Montana when the driver of a car in front of the truck suddenly stepped on his brakes. My father braked to avoid hitting the car and the trailer jackknifed. The weight of the trailer then caused the pickup truck to whip back and forth across the road. The force of the motion caused everything to shift, and the trailer’s back doors flew off. The trailer’s contents then spilled out onto the highway.
Luckily my father was able to bring the pickup under control without further incident. A crowd of at least 20 people, including my family, climbed out of their cars to help clear our things off the highway.
Suddenly, in the middle of the mess and confusion, I heard my father shout. A large truck was going too fast to stop. There was no room for him to go around and no time to slam on the brakes. The truck barreled through the debris and into the small crowd of people. Nearly everyone moved when they heard my dad’s cry, but seven-year-old Charlie hadn’t heard. Steven, who was about to turn ten, had started to move out of the way. But when he saw Charlie in the truck’s path, he turned back to save his brother’s life.
Charlie was killed instantly. Steven was hit by the truck and thrown to the side of the road. He died two hours later in a Billings, Montana, hospital. Steven literally gave his own life trying to save his brother’s. His example made me think how lucky I was to have a brother who loved others so much that he was willing to give his life to save them.
But each of us has someone who, like Steven, has sacrificed his life to save us. That is what Jesus Christ did for us. To me, Steven’s example brings new meaning to the sacrifice made by our Savior.
Because our Savior loved us so much, we will all live again. He also made it possible for each of us to overcome the effects of sin. He paid the price and opened the way for us to repent of our sins and gain eternal life, “which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
My family’s story does not end with my brothers’ deaths. The doctor who tried so desperately to save Steven’s life had been separated from his own sons through a terrible divorce. When he told my mother that Steven had died, my mother told him, “The Lord will allow us to see him again. I am so grateful that we have an eternal family so we can all be together again.”
The doctor was so impressed by my mother’s faith that he investigated the Church and was baptized and later sealed in the temple to his new wife.
Eight years later, when I was deciding whether to serve a mission, I thought about what Steven had done and compared it to what the Lord was asking me to do. I began to understand my personal reasons for serving a mission. I loved the Lord, and I loved my brothers and sisters on this earth enough to share the message of our Savior’s love.